Friday, November 30, 2012

Review: Kiss of the Butterfly

Kiss of the Butterfly
Kiss of the Butterfly by James Lyon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Alternate history/Urban Fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: People interested in actual vampire myths and legends

Disclosure: I received an e-book review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: "The smell of blood is in the air, I sense it even now. People thirst for it; the entire country is mad with desire for it. And now we are going to war with our brothers because they look like us, and because we can smell our blood coursing through their veins...” A mysterious letter starts a university student on a journey into the war-torn lands of rapidly disintegrating Yugoslavia. Naively trusting his enigmatic professor, the student unwittingly descends into a dystopian crucible of decay, destruction, passion, death, romance, lust, immorality, genocide, and forbidden knowledge promising immortality. As the journey grows ever more perilous, he realizes he must confront an ancient evil that has been once again loosed upon the earth: from medieval Bosnia to enlightenment-era Vienna, from the bright beaches of modern-day Southern California to the exotically dark cityscapes of Budapest and Belgrade, and horrors of Bosnia.

Kiss of the Butterfly” is based on true historical events. In the year of his death, 1476, the Prince of Wallachia – Vlad III (Dracula) – committed atrocities under the cloak of medieval Bosnia’s forested mountains, culminating in a bloody massacre in the mining town of Srebrenica. A little over 500 years later, in July 1995, history repeated itself when troops commanded by General Ratko Mladic entered Srebrenica and slaughtered nearly 8,000 people, making it the worst massacre Europe had seen since the Second World War. For most people, the two events seemed unconnected…

My Thoughts: Having been fascinated by vampires since I was in 4th grade, I was unable to resist the allure of a book that makes use of the actual legends and lore rather than just making stuff up (like sparkling). I was not disappointed – the research and details in this book were amazing, and it was a great story.

Probably my favorite part of the book was a short “interlude” section featuring the vampires finding themselves in the modern world and marveling at all they see. I think an entire book written just about this would be hilarious, personally. This little scene shows them discovering modern firearms.
It’s strange craftsmanship... nothing I have ever seen before.... It’s engraved with the word Zastava and the year 1956.... Multiple cartridges... and they have attached the ball to a brass casing... and it loads through the breech. This means no more muzzle-loading, no more measuring out powder for every shot, no more ramming the charge home down the barrel, no more forgetting to remove the ram-rod before firing, no more problems keeping your powder dry. They can probably fire several shots a minute with this. An army with this weapon could rule the world!... We have truly met with good fortune: our meal is ... possessed of a superior weapon.

If you, like me, enjoy reading about the legends and lore surrounding vampires, and enjoy a fascinating story that interweaves fact, fiction, and history into an intricate web of a story, then you won’t want to miss this terrific book – recommended!

Background on the Book: Vampires have formed an integral part of Balkan folklore for over a thousand years. "Kiss" represents a radical departure from popular vampire legend, based as it is on genuine Balkan folklore from as far back as the 14th century, not on pop culture or fantasy. "Kiss of the Butterfly" offers up the real, horrible creatures that existed long before Dracula and places them within a modern spectrum.

Meticulously researched, “Kiss of the Butterfly” weaves together intricate threads from the 15th, 18th and 20th centuries to create a rich phantasmagorical tapestry of allegory and reality. It is about divided loyalties, friendship and betrayal, virtue and innocence lost, obsession and devotion, desire and denial, the thirst for life and hunger for death, rebirth and salvation. “Kiss” blends history and the terrors of the Balkans as it explores dark corners of the soul.

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Keith Rommel's "The Cursed Man" being considered for a movie!

Back in September 2011, before I started blogging, I read and reviewed Keith Rommel's wonderful book The Cursed Man. I recently updated the review to add my disclosure and formatting, so you can view it here. You may remember that I had Mr. Rommel on the blog earlier this year with a tour post and guest post (which you can view by clicking the links) for the second book in that series, The Lurking Man.

Well, I have just learned that he is in the process of auditioning people for a possible movie! You can view the auditions at this link, this link, this link, or this link. My apologies for all the links, but I have no idea how to embed Vimeo videos. Anyway, I thought I would help to spread the word, because this is very cool! Have fun checking out all these nifty things!

Review: The Cursed Man

The Cursed Man
The Cursed Man by Keith Rommel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Please note: I read and reviewed this book in September 2011. I am updating this to add a disclosure and update the format.

Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book in .pdf format from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

My Synopsis: Alister Kunkle is a cursed man – everyone he has contact with dies mysteriously. It all started with the deaths of first his grandmother and then his parents and he sought out death to worship it and make sure he would not die as well. Unfortunately, death is jealous and will not allow him contact with anyone else. He has himself committed to an institution and refuses all contact with people in order to avoid any more deaths. Then Dr. Anna Lee comes to see him – and survives. What does it all mean?

My Thoughts: This was a seriously twisted and creepy story – and I loved it! The flow of the story between past and present maintains the narrative and keeps us learning along with Dr. Lee about Alister and his life. The writing is well-done and the characters are very nicely written. I was really impressed with the story and read it straight through as quickly as I could; just kept turning pages. Another perfect story for the Halloween season – highly recommended!

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: The Same Moon

The Same Moon
The Same Moon by Junying Kirk

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclosure: I read and reviewed this book from an e-book provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review in July 2011. I later edited the book for the author.

My Synopsis: Pearl Zhang was born in the Sichuan province on mainland China in 1961. She was raised in a traditional Chinese manner, went to school, got a job, got married, had her single child … and then her life changed. She was given the opportunity to go study at Warwick University in United Kingdom for one year – and stayed. She adjusted to Western life, divorced her husband, lost her child to him, work, struggled, scrimped and saved. She was in a new world, a completely foreign situation – but under the same moon.

My Thoughts: Beautifully written, The Same Moon is an (apparently) semi-autobiographical, semi-fictional story. Ms Kirk tells the story with authority and details that will astound the reader, especially one who, like me, doesn’t know very much about China – its fascinating traditions, its beautiful scenery, its generous people. She also grew up during the Cultural Revolution – she also left home and came to UK and stayed. I don’t know how much else of this story is based on her life, but that is enough to give me an idea – it was not an easy time or place to grow up.

This is not the sort of book I would ordinarily seek out and read – however, Junying Kirk asked me to do so and provide a review, and I can happily say that I loved this book and can heartily recommend it to anyone and everyone. Pick up this beautiful book – the first in a trilogy – and prepare to immerse yourself in a different world.

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JKS Communications presents: KWS Publishers Virtual Book Tours

Today I'm featuring KWS Publishers on my blog, so please welcome them!

Press Release of General Information

About KWS Publishers, Inc.

KWS Publishers, Inc. is a publisher of scholarly, reference and fiction works. It was founded in 2009, and is based in Chicago with an office in London.

Its three key publishing development themes are:
·         Revised and updated editions of important works originally published by the English-speaking world’s most prominent museum, university press and trade/academic publishers. These editions are created both for libraries and for the book trade.
·         New Fiction and, via its Astor Place Genre Fiction series, a reintroduction of noteworthy, out-of-print fiction of various genres.
·         New scholarly monographs and reference product, including single-volume reference tools for students and multi-volume academic reference works for libraries.

The founders of KWS—George Walsh and James Hart—are experienced in the information and scholarly publishing markets, having previously founded St. James Press and Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. Those companies won an unprecedented number of industry accolades and awards for their work, more than any other publisher in the U.S. or U.K.

KWS books (and e-books) are distributed in all world markets by the Independent Publishers Group (IPG). Books ordered on the KWS website will be supplied by IPG or its agents.

Now to give you some idea of the books they have available! Marissa was my first contact at JKS and is a super-wonderful person, so definitely be in touch with her if you're interested in learning more.

CONTACT: JKSCommunications, Marissa Curnutte, 347.574.3136,

Fall catalogue includes a guide to the history of human innovation, and a professor’s fun-filled picture book on dinosaurs

CHICAGO, IL – October 2012 America’s leading expert on commemorative coinage has compiled the most thorough and wide-ranging volume ever on the country’s rich numismatic history dating back to 1893. Encyclopedia of the Commemorative Coins of the United States: History, Art, Investment & Collection of America’s Memorial Coinage is one of the premiere titles from KWS Publishers, Inc. this year.

Equipped with 668 full-color photographs of coins and other memorabilia, the book is a must-have this holiday season for the serious collector, hobbyist, discerning investor and any reference librarian. Anthony J. Swiatek, past president of the American Numismatic Association, provides a history for each coin, detailed analysis of contemporary collecting facts, and further discusses counterfeit coins, mint errors and much more.

Library Journal raves the book is an essential, well-organized straightforward language accessible to novices.” And Booklist says, “Swiatek’s authoritative reference to commemorative coinage impresses with its meticulous coverage and well-researched details.”

The KWS fall catalogue includes Milestones of Science and Technology: Making the Modern World, an authoritative guide to the history of human innovation. Published in collaboration with London’s Science Museum, this second edition shows readers insightful examinations of the new, present-day technologies society already takes for granted – from magnetic resonance imaging to the Internet.
Another fall release is a fun-filled history picture book on the many species of dinosaurs. Told in an appealing verse form for children ages 5 to 12, There were Dinosaurs Everywhere!: A Rhyming Romp Through Dinosaur History is written by American History professor and humorist Howard Temperley and illustrated by Michael Kline, whose art can be found in more than 40 books and in Kids Discover magazine.

Earlier this year, KWS launched Elaine Gordon’s steamy new novel The Pygmalion Complex as part of the Astor Place Genre Fiction series, a re-introduction of forgotten classics of mystery, romance, science fiction and western published since 1945. And children were treated to a thought-provoking book set in the Atlantic Rainforest titled The Big Field: A Child’s Year Under the Southern Cross, written by bilingual children’s librarian, avid environmentalist and mother-of-two Anne Morddel.

KWS Publishers, Inc. is a publisher of scholarly, reference and fiction works based in Chicago with an office in London. Founders George Walsh and James Hart are experienced in the information and scholarly publishing markets, having previously founded St. James Press and Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. Those two companies won more industry accolades and awards for their work than any other publisher in the U.S. or U.K.


Book Review: "Year Zero" by Rob Reid

Year Zero review
Author: Rob Reid
5 out of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Science Fiction
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of humorous stories, science fiction, people who like music.

Disclosure: I received an ARC paperback copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter thinks it’s a prank, not an alien encounter, when a redheaded mullah and a curvaceous nun show up at his office. But Frampton and Carly are highly advanced (if bumbling) extraterrestrials. And boy, do they have news.

The entire cosmos, they tell him, has been hopelessly hooked on humanity’s music ever since “Year Zero” (1977 to us), when American pop songs first reached alien ears. This addiction has driven a vast intergalactic society to commit the biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang. The resulting fines and penalties have bankrupted the whole universe. We humans suddenly own everything—and the aliens are not amused.

Nick Carter has just been tapped to clean up this mess before things get ugly, and he’s an unlikely galaxy-hopping hero: He’s scared of heights. He’s also about to be fired. And he happens to have the same name as a Backstreet Boy. But he does know a thing or two about copyright law. And he’s packing a couple of other pencil-pushing superpowers that could come in handy.

Soon he’s on the run from a sinister parrot and a highly combustible vacuum cleaner. With Carly and Frampton as his guides, Nick now has forty-eight hours to save humanity, while hopefully wowing the hot girl who lives down the hall from him.

My Thoughts: “An alien advance party was suddenly nosing around my planet. Worse, they were lawyering up. . . .” This book is hilarious. Seriously, if I started throwing in quotes, this review could end up going on to pages – I ended up reading huge sections of it to my husband wherever we happened to be, because it was so funny I couldn’t stand to keep it to myself and wanted to share it with whomever around me would listen. It’s amazing I didn’t end up going downtown, standing on the street, and starting a performance as I read it, truly.

A good example is a scene a bit past the halfway point in which Nick and his neighbor Manda are in a cab and are mistaken for top-secret government agents.
America Good!” the driver said obsequiously, apparently confusing us for government operatives... As we started to roll, the driver muttered into his cellphone in a language that had a spectacular density of consonants. After listening intently for a few seconds, he turned to me. “North Vietnam?” He shook his head derisively. “Very, very bad.” He listened some more, then denounced Brezhnev. Apparently someone on the other end was now mining an old history book for statements that he could use to prove his loyalty to the secret agents in his cab. After sitting through heated condemnations of Kaiser Wilhelm, the Mexican troops at the Alamo, and King George III, I pulled up a picture of Pugwash... As I opened the taxi door, a loud, shattering sound came from the top floor... and [I] saw something large and Pugwash-shaped accelerating toward the ground... The driver was denouncing the Algonquian tribe to me (they apparently fought against us in the French and Indian War), so he was facing my way and saw everything. Already plenty rattled, that was it for him, and he took off.

You see? A single quote and it doubled the amount of rambling I had already done! Imagine that times about 100 and you’ll figure out how much of this I was tempted to quote at you. And maybe that would be a more effective review than my excessive fangirling... but I don’t want to spoil things, you know? Anyway, no one would have time to read that review, so you’ll just have to trust me – this book is absolutely filled with hilarious stuff. And it also effectively explains exactly how Windows has saved the world, which you won’t want to miss. That bit is right at the end, though, so I can’t tell you more of that. There are also individual playlists for several of the characters at the end of the book which reminded me of several songs that I want to add to my own collection.

So, highly recommended for fans of humorous books, science fiction, and music. Definitely check this book out!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review: The Gone-Away World

The Gone-Away World
The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclosure: I received this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. I read and reviewed this book in September of 2008.

My synopsis: The narrator of The Gone-Away World - whose name we are never told - takes us on a wildly entertaining trip through his life and how it intersects with the rest of the world when a new weapon has unspeakable consequences. Often laugh-out-loud hilarious we are taken on a tour of his past until, a bit over half-way through the book, a strange twist takes place and the story becomes a good bit darker. I can't even give a hint about this twist or I'll ruin it for you, so I won't go any further into that. There is also a sub-plot having to do with ninjas and mimes that I never even saw coming.

My Thoughts: I have noted this as a work of military science fiction, since a good bit of the story takes place while the narrator is in the military. This should not turn off people who aren't necessarily fans of military science fiction - this is an astonishly good book and I can recommend it to anyone who enjoys off-beat humour (a la Good Omens) and a good story. Don't miss this one!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Review: Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America

Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America
Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America by Randy Attwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Please note, I originally read this book 9/2/2011 from a copy provided by the author for review; I provided editing for the author later, prior to publishing this book in paperback format.

Additional note: I now have an audio file of myself reading this review aloud, which can be found on Soundcloud by following this link. So, if you've been curious to hear my voice, here is your chance!

Book info Genre: Dystopian Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: EVERYONE

My reading experience: I expected a few things when I started reading this book. I expected to maybe be amused by a satirical take on the Fundamentalists that are doing their utmost to take over this country – sadly, the concept is difficult to make amusing, because the idea of Fundamentalists taking over this country and turning it into an Evangelical theocracy is absolutely terrifying to anyone who wants to live in love and Light. I expected to be outraged by the excesses of Fundamentalist leaders who grow fat and rich off the tithing of their flock, while the common people live in poverty and squalor. I expected to be terrified by the idea of an Evangelical theocracy in general. What I did not expect was to be profoundly moved. I did not expect the overwhelming desire to make this book required reading for everyone. I did not expect goose bumps or a profound feeling of “rightness” to come over me while I read this book. I did not expect to want to take to the streets to preach the word of Bobby – to propose that the world would be a better place if we all became … Bobbites.

Synopsis: You see, 12-year-old Bobby Crowley – the son of stone-mason Bob Crowley, who is working to build a cathedral in Topeka, KS that will be larger and more glorious than any other cathedral in the world – is special. He has an amazing memory for Bible verses, and a strangely wise way of saying just the right thing at just the right time. And he has been carefully watching the formation of a significant alignment of stars in the sky, including a new star that just appeared three months ago, which are coming into a cross-like shape. And on a Friday like any other Friday – a Stoning Friday that would see the stoning to death of a “heathen, a whore, a pair of adulterers and a pair of faggots” - Bobby takes his place among the great religious leaders of the world when he steps forward and speaks the words, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” and in the process saves the life of a beatific young woman: he gains a following and begins performing miracles, and providing proverbs of hope, peace and love. Many people believe he is the second coming of Christ.

Caught in his wake are a prostitute, his teacher (himself gay and who has been forcing himself upon the weaker boys in his classes), the young woman who had been accused of being a whore and set to be stoned, a seller of banned books, a Catholic friar and many more; they go into Rabbletown, the slums of Topeka, where Bobby spreads the true way – the way of peace, love, acceptance and kindness, rather than the hate and manipulations used by those in power. And in a world where the leaders all revere and emulate the practices and beliefs of that disgusting scumbag Fred Phelps, those sorts of teachings are threatening to the power structure. Bobby and all who believe in him and his miracles are declared anathema and the Inquisition is sent after them.

My Thoughts: This book does two things: it exposes the horror of a theocratic, fascist Evangelical Fundamentalist power structure, and it provides hope for redemption for anyone who chooses to live a truly good life, and follow the basic teachings that so many modern-day dogmatics seem to forget are the only two rules laid down by Christ – you know, the one Christians are supposed to emulate? Yeshua Christos told his followers to follow two simple rules:
1) love each other and treat others like you would like them to treat you and;
2) love the Higher Power of Creation, in whatever form you choose to comprehend It.
It doesn’t matter what religion, creed, belief structure, or lack thereof you choose to affiliate yourself with, these simple rules are common across almost every single one, and are the only rules that are really necessary to create a world in which everyone would like to live. This book – reading this book – will cause a profound shift in perception and I believe, honestly, that the world would be a better place if everyone followed the example set by Bobby. We all need to become Bobbites. Read this book and see if you don’t find these truths to be as profound as I did.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Review: Sleepless

Sleepless by Charlie Huston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclosure: This was a book I received through the Amazon Vine program which I read in 2009. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: What former philosophy student Parker Hass wanted was a better world. A world both just and safe for his wife and infant daughter. So he joined the LAPD and tried to make it that way. But the world changed. Struck by waves of chaos carried in on a tide of insomnia. A plague of sleeplessness.

Park can sleep, but he is wide awake. And as much as he wishes he was dreaming, his eyes are open. He has no choice but to see it all. That's his job. Working undercover as a drug dealer in a Los Angeles ruled in equal parts by martial law and insurgency, he's tasked with cutting off illegal trade in Dreamer, the only drug that can give the infected what they most crave: sleep.

After a year of lost leads and false trails, Park stumbles into the perilous shadows cast by the pharmaceuticals giant behind Dreamer. Somewhere in those shadows, at the nexus of disease and drugs and money, a secret is hiding. Drawn into the inner circle of a tech guru with a warped agenda and a special use for the sleepless themselves, Park thinks he knows what that secret might be.

To know for certain, he will have to go deeper into the restless world. His wife has become sleepless, and their daughter may soon share the same fate. For them, he will risk what they need most from him: his belief that justice must be served. Unknown to him, his choice ties all of their futures to the singularly deadly nature of an aging mercenary who stalks Park.

The deeper Park stumbles through the dark, the more he is convinced that it is obscuring the real world. Bring enough light and the shadows will retreat. Bring enough light and everyone will see themselves again. Bring enough light and he will find his way to the safe corner, the harbor he's promised his family. Whatever the cost to himself.

My Thoughts: I enjoy Charlie Huston - his books are quirky, strange and unusual. This one is no exception. The insomnia disease that is rampaging through the world is insidious and spooky - the actions taken by Park are completely understandable, even while you're cringing and wondering why he is doing this. A fascinating book, a terrific idea. If you're a Huston fan, don't miss this one.

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Review: The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death
The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclosure: This was an Amazon Vine book. I read and reviewed it in 2009.

My Synopsis: Webster Goodhue used to be an elementary-school teacher, until a traumatic event catapulted him into a depression that has left him bumming around behind his tattoo artist friend Chev. However, when Chev tells him the free ride is over and that Web had better take the job that their friend Po Sin has just offered (cleaning up stuff - a rather vague description), Web finds himself in a most unexpected field of work: that of cleaning up the scenes of violent death.

Of course, since Web has a problem with diarrhea of the mouth, at one of the early jobs (suicide of a man with brain cancer) he makes an inappropriate comment, which just happens to be overheard by the man's daughter, Soledad. When he goes to apologize, they end up talking and seem to spark, but soon it is time to leave and no one gets a number.

Later, when Web is watching the shop while Po Sin and Gabe (the other member of their company, Clean Team, who - of course - has a mysterious past), Soledad calls and tells Web that she needs his help - to clean up something. This catapults Web into a situation that ends up way beyond his control.

My Thoughts: This is basically what I can describe about the plot without giving away spoilers. It is described fairly accurately on the book's page - but the one thing I noticed while reading the book is that the overall theme goes beyond the violence, beyond the death scenes being mopped up, beyond even the LA "cowboys" (although they're pretty funny to someone raised by a real cowboy!) - this book is about the evolution of a personality that has been warped by PTSD, about that personality realizing that it needs help and beginning to turn around and face its demons and come back alive. It's an amazing thing and I was very impressed.

I was also impressed (and surprised) while going through my wish list and updating my hard copy thereof to find I have several books by this author on it already - apparently I was already aware of how cool he was. I had just forgotten with my Swiss Cheese memory! So, with renewed enthusiasm, I will be seeking out his other works.

My one complaint: I do have one nit-pick, though. Obviously the author never took any basic mass-communication courses or he would know this very basic spelling error, this very common mistake made by millions of people who are used to doubling the final consonant before adding an "es" to the word - and that mistake is using the word "busses" as the plural for "bus." The reason that this is a mistake is that there is a word "buss" and that word means "a light kiss." The plural of that word is "busses" and this means "many or multiple light kisses." The plural of "bus" is "buses." Now you know. Point and laugh now every time you go by a fast food restaurant that has a sign that says "busses welcome." Point and laugh at "busses only" lanes on the road. Generally have a good time with your new-found knowledge! Oh, and while you are out doing that, buy this book!

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Winner's of the Dale Ibitz Giveaway

Okay, the Dale Ibitz giveaway is now over - sorry for the delay in announcing the winners! However, while I've been setting everything up to post, I have notified everyone already, so it all works out, right? Anyway, congratulations to the winners!

Without further ado, the winner of the paperback set is Jessica P!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And again we had entrants for the e-books from the USA - folks, when I hold one like this, you need to make sure you sign up for the appropriate one and ONLY the appropriate one! I do things like this so folks all over the world have the opportunity to win something and that's why I set them up the way I do.

At any rate, after trimming out the extra entries, the winners of the E-books are Hend and Pragya! Congratulations!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Book Review: "The Devil in Silver" by Victor LaValle

The Devil in Silver review
Author: Victor LaValle
5 out of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Literary Fiction (per publisher); Dark Fiction (per me)
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Anyone who likes a great story

Disclosure: I received a paperback ARC of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: New Hyde Hospital’s psychiatric ward has a new resident. It also has a very, very old one.

Pepper is a rambunctious big man, minor-league troublemaker, working-class hero (in his own mind), and, suddenly, the surprised inmate of a budget-strapped mental institution in Queens, New York. He’s not mentally ill, but that doesn’t seem to matter. He is accused of a crime he can’t quite square with his memory. In the darkness of his room on his first night, he’s visited by a terrifying creature with the body of an old man and the head of a bison who nearly kills him before being hustled away by the hospital staff. It’s no delusion: The other patients confirm that a hungry devil roams the hallways when the sun goes down. Pepper rallies three other inmates in a plot to fight back: Dorry, an octogenarian schizophrenic who’s been on the ward for decades and knows all its secrets; Coffee, an African immigrant with severe OCD, who tries desperately to send alarms to the outside world; and Loochie, a bipolar teenage girl who acts as the group’s enforcer. Battling the pill-pushing staff, one another, and their own minds, they try to kill the monster that’s stalking them. But can the Devil die?

My Thoughts: This was one of those books I picked up because there wasn’t anything else that really appealed to me, and it just looked strange enough that I would enjoy it. Pepper seems like the kind of character I would enjoy, and I also tend to like stories sent in mental institutions. But imagine my delight when I found descriptions like this one:
...Queens, New York. The most ethnically diverse region not just in the United States, but on the entire planet; a distinction it’s held for more than four decades. In Queens, you will find Korean kids who sound like black kids. Italians who sound like Puerto Ricans. Puerto Ricans who sound like Italians. Third-generation Irish who sound like old Jews. That’s Queens. Not a melting pot, not even a tossed salad, but an all you-can-eat, mix-and-match buffet.

This is the sort of book that will give people with a phobia of madness or being committed nightmares. This is a paranoiac’s vision of a mental institution, a place designed and developed for the sole purpose of disappearing those who are so far beneath society’s notice that no one will even care when they vanish. Designed and developed to house a monster. But who will believe mental patients when they claim a beast is killing them?

I was put in on a 72-hour hold once – thankfully I was released on-time – and there do tend to be a lot of amusing incidents on a psych ward. For instance, the problems with the television lounge and the person in control of the remote can cause amusing incidents like this one: was a ‘news program.’ Cue the exodus! Two-thirds of the patients scrambled. The Air Force’s finest fighter squadrons don’t move as fast.
These sorts of humorous interludes are very necessary, as this is a really freaky book.

However, this author is really amazing. His style is such that is draws you in and holds you. Take this example, talking about a man who ends up being scapegoated for events that take place late in the book. “Only a day after he’d left New Hyde, no one at the hospital could remember the dude’s name. (His name was Robert Paulson. His name was Robert Paulson.)” You see what I mean? That reptition – pure genius. So, I can heartily recommend this book to folks that won’t get freaked out by the content, or those who aren’t triggered by the concept of an asylum. Great stuff!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Book Review: "No Peace for the Damned" by Megan Powell

No Peace for the Damned review
Author: Megan Powell
3 out of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Dark Urban Fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of darker urban fantasy

Disclosure: I received a paperback ARC from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Magnolia Kelch is no stranger to pain. Beautiful and powerful, she's spent her entire life at the mercy of her sadistic father and the rest of the Kelch clan, who have tortured her and tested the limits of her powers. After one particularly heinous night that leaves Magnolia nearly dead, she finally sees her chance for escape. But this first taste of freedom is short-lived when she collides with Thirteen, head of the Network – a secret organization dedicated to fighting supernatural criminals – who recruits her into the group. Even as she's coming to grips with this new life and the horrific memories that still haunt her, she's conflicted by her growing attraction to fellow team member Theo and the emergence of new, untested abilities. After months of grueling training, her loyalty to the team is tested when she learns her target is the Network's most wanted: the Kelch family. Revenge may course through her veins, but so does the blood of the Kelches. And opposing her family may cost her the thing she treasures most. After all, Magnolia is still a Kelch. And the Kelches are damned.

My Thoughts: This is a darker urban fantasy, and one that we sort of jump into the middle of the story, which makes it a bit hard to get one’s feet under oneself as the story starts rolling. However, most questions are answered by the end of the book.

My main problem with the story is this: Magnolia has been being tortured by her family all her life. She is 22 before she escapes, yet she’s completely rational and well-adjusted to modern life. How does that happen? She should be bug-house nuts, at the very least, and certainly not the least bit comfortable in the real world.
To add to that: I’ve read books where other reviewers have complained about insta-love, but in this book, there really is insta-love between Magnolia and Theo, only Magnolia has no experience with any sort of soft emotion, so she has no idea what is going on.

So, when it comes down to it, I just don’t know how to feel about this book. Don’t get me wrong – I liked it, overall, it’s just that it makes no sense to me that Magnolia is a functioning person. There’s no explanation as to how she has managed to maintain any sort of sanity, nor as to how she manages to maintain reality. We do eventually get the reason that her family has tortured her all her life, but even that isn’t until the very end of the book. It’s due to these confusions and questions that I have rated this as three stars, not due to any lack of interest in my part in the book. This is this author’s first book, and is the first book in a series. I will probably be watching for future books in the series, to see if any of these questions are answered.

If you like dark urban fantasy, and are very willing to suspend disbelief, then go ahead and check this book out.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Book review: "Talking to the Dead" by Harry Bingham

Talking to the Dead review
Author: Harry Bingham
4 out of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of mystery/suspense/thrillers novels with great characters.

Disclosure: I received an ARC galley paperback from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: SHE KNOWS WHAT IT’S LIKE. . . .

At first, the murder scene appears sad, but not unusual: a young woman undone by drugs and prostitution, her six-year-old daughter dead alongside her. But then detectives find a strange piece of evidence in the squalid house: the platinum credit card of a very wealthy—and long dead—steel tycoon. What is a heroin-addicted hooker doing with the credit card of a well-known and powerful man who died months ago? This is the question that the most junior member of the investigative team, Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, is assigned to answer.

But D.C. Griffiths is no ordinary cop. She’s earned a reputation at police headquarters in Cardiff, Wales, for being odd, for not picking up on social cues, for being a little overintense. And there’s that gap in her past, the two-year hiatus that everyone assumes was a breakdown. But Fiona is a crack investigator, quick and intuitive. She is immediately drawn to the crime scene, and to the tragic face of the six-year-old girl, who she is certain has something to tell her . . . something that will break the case wide open.

Ignoring orders and protocol, Fiona begins to explore far beyond the rich man’s credit card and into the secrets of her seaside city. And when she uncovers another dead prostitute, Fiona knows that she’s only begun to scratch the surface of a dark world of crime and murder. But the deeper she digs, the more danger she risks—not just from criminals and killers but from her own past . . . and the abyss that threatens to pull her back at any time.

My Thoughts: I am willing to admit that one of the reasons I chose this particular book is because it is set in Wales, a country in which I have been fascinated since I was a pre-teen reading the Chronicles of Prydain and the Dark is Rising series and learning about all sorts of interesting Welsh legends and lore. Admittedly this is a mystery thriller, not fantasy or legend, but it’s still set in that magical country, so here I am...

As I started reading it, I found I really liked Fiona, the main character. She has a wry way of looking at things that I found very appealing. She’s working on an embezzling case and has this to say about accountants:
Accountants come in pairs these days. A middle-aged man in a dark suit and a sheen of perspiration, plus his younger accomplice, a woman who looks like her hobbies are arranging things in rows and making right angles.... Just to make my arguments even more effective – and to annoy the female accomplice – I seize the moment to make a mess of the papers in front of me. No right angles anywhere now. No rows of anything.
I found this particularly amusing because I used to do this sort of thing to a particularly persnickety coworker myself, once upon a time. Then just to mess with them some more:
To celebrate, as I’m showing the accountants out of the building, I shake hands with the female accomplice very earnestly and for three seconds longer than she is comfortable with... As she’s retrieving her hand, I give her upper arm a quick squeeze and fire off a for-your-eyes-only smile at her.
I tell you, I just really liked Fi – she’s my kind of lady! I also quite like her father, a delightful, happy man, whose favorite thing is whatever it is he happens to be about to get or, as Fi says, “A gift, that. To have as your favorite thing whatever it is you’re about to consume. Dad has a new favorite thing every day, often more.” Overall this author does a great job in creating memorable characters to which the reader can develop a certain attachment, be that positive or negative, so that was well-done.

Like a lot of these types of books, there is some wry humor mixed in here to help break up the tension. For instance, “It’s not much use being mostly good enough when your occasional lapses include heroin, prostitution, your child being taken into care and ultimately murdered. Whoops, April dear, sorry about that.” Or when Fi mentions to her boss that she’s just wildly speculating about something, he replies, “Wild speculation is exactly what we expect from our officers.” The pathologist “fusses over this summary. It’s all too clear and sharp for him. He starts qualifying every statement and then starts adding riders to his qualifications.” I love this sort of backhanded, dry humor. Another place that amused me was when Fi got lost in the hospital after visiting the pathologist (some details about that in the following paragraph).
At one point a nurse stops me and asks me if I’m all right. I say, “Yes. Quite all right,” but I say it too loudly, and I go squeaking off down the yellow vinyl to show how all right I am... I find myself at a T-junction in the corridor, wondering how to find the exit, then realize I’m staring directly at a large black-on-metal sign which says WAY OUT →. I treat this as a clue and pursue it all the way to the main exit....
This sort of dry humor keeps the tension of the overall story from growing out of hand and overwhelming the reader’s enjoyment of the story, which really is quite tense and at times almost frightening.

There were a few bits I want to call BS on. The pathologist is described as fussily pedantic, but then comes out with this beaut. “...We’ve tested urine and blood for drug use. Urine tests were negative for marijuana, cocaine, opiates, amphetamines, PCP, and various other substances. We detected low levels of alcohol and methamphetamine... A clearer positive result for heroin.” I might be completely out of my mind, but heroin is an opiate, and methamphetamine is an amphetamine, right? So, how can a “fussily pedantic” person first say the tests were negative for opiates and amphetamines and then turn around and say they were positive for methamphetamine and heroin? Then he pops out with this ridiculous theory about heroin overdose:
When somebody starts taking heroin, the body does all is can to counteract the effect of the drug. When the drug is taken in a familiar environment, the body is prepared for the toxic assault and is already doing its best to counteract it.... If you pull them away from their home environment, the body’s defense mechanisms haven’t been primed to respond. Result: Even an ordinary dose – the same dose as the user was tolerating in the home environment – can become lethal.
First of all, heroin is not toxic – any toxicity comes from whatever the seller has used to cut the heroin. The body doesn’t fight against heroin – it craves it. It becomes addicted. And this whole “being primed in a familiar environment” nonsense is just … ridiculous. Like the ritual of preparing to take the heroin wouldn’t be enough to “prime” the body? Admittedly this is an ARC copy, so maybe the final stage of editing will get rid of some of these inconsistencies, but... that bit, coming early in the story, made me feel really iffy about continuing – those sorts of inaccuracies put me off at an early stage in reading.

However, I persevered. And I’m very glad I did! The ending was wonderful – we receive tantalizing little hints about Fi throughout the book, and it’s all wrapped up nicely at the ending. Plus more amusing descriptions, like that of her friend, Lev, who she says moves like a cat only, “...I imagine that whoever first developed that queen of clichés never spent much time looking at cats, who are always licking their bits or finding new ways to scratch themselves.” At any rate, in deference to making an already long review longer, I must say the ending really made any potential problems with the beginning worth getting through. Fans of mystery/suspense thrillers will really enjoy this story, and I think it does a particularly good job of creating a likable and relatable main character. If you’ve been hesitating over this book, hesitate no longer! I recommend it.

Review: Still Missing

Still Missing
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Please note: I read this book in 2010. I'm updating this review to add a disclosure and disclaimer and otherwise format it to my current standards.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

My Synopsis: Annie O'Sullivan had a good life - plenty of money, a nice house, nice car, lots of good clothing ... everything was going great. Until she was abducted by a man who was obsessed with her, who set her up as his "perfect" housewife, insisting on all sorts of rules that she had to follow on a day-to-day basis and keeping her captive in a cottage on a mountain. Annie doesn't know where she is, but she does know she will take the first chance she can to kill her captor and escape.

My Additional Thoughts: Told in a series of first-person narratives, and then flash-backs, by Annie herself as she attends sessions with a therapist (which is, while not a completely new technique, still a quite effective one), this book will keep you locked onto the page. The ending WILL shock you - it is a wonderful twist.

Recommended for: Fans of mystery/thrillers and suspense novels, anyone who likes a good story.

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Book review: "SEAL Team 666" by Weston Ochse

SEAL Team 666 review
Author: Weston Ochse
4 out of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Military Urban Fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of military fiction, science-fiction and urban fantasy with male character and points of view.
Book Available: Book available in hardcover and e-book editions November 27, 2012.

Disclosure: I received an ARC paperback copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Weston Ochse's SEAL Team 666 follows Cadet Jack Walker. Halfway through SEAL training, he's still green but showing incredible promise when he's whisked away to join four SEALs—and their dog—for a special ops mission. Walker soon finds himself in a whirlwind of otherworldly creatures and events as he finds out the true nature of this “special ops” team: SEAL Team 666. Battling demons, possessed humans, mass-murdering cults, and evil in its most dark and primeval form, SEAL Team 666 has their work cut out for them. And it’s not long before they realize that the threat isn’t just directed against the U.S.—an ancient and deadly cult has bigger plans, and Walker is at the center of a supernatural conflict with the entire world at stake.

My Thoughts: When I heard about this book, I just could not resist – combining two of my favorite genres of military science-fiction and urban fantasy? Irresistible!

The only real problem I had with the story was the head-hopping. It was supposed to be from Walker’s point of view but occasionally it would jump into someone else’s head. This was an ARC, which are usually uncorrected proofs, so I will assume things like Jen’s changing eye color and Hoover’s hopping gender will be fixed in the final copy.

But overall, it was a fun and fast-paced story for those who enjoy things like military science-fiction and urban fantasy with male characters and point of view. Those looking for a softer, gentler story – hey, this is about SEALs, don’t expect a lot of sharing and caring. What it is includes a lot of blowing stuff to kingdom come, so if that doesn’t interest you, best to look for something else to read. But if you like a lot of explosions and fighting, you’ll probably enjoy this story quite a lot. Check it out.

Book Review: "Blue Moonlight" by Vincent Zandri

Blue Moonlight review
Author: Vincent Zandri
3 out of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of suspense/thrillers

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Private Investigator Dick Moonlight returns to chase down a cop gone bad in the next installment of author Vincent Zandri's clever and cunning Moonlight series. Moonlight has hit some turbulence. Sure, his bar burned to the ground; his significant other, Lola, left him for another man; the private eye business is slow; and his evenings are now spent with his new pal, Jack Daniels. But this is real turbulence – in a plane, going down fast, and he's waking up handcuffed to an FBI agent. How he got there is a little fuzzy, thanks to the sliver of a .22 caliber hollow-point bullet lodged in his brain. Once on the ground, and after a few bumps and bruises, things become clearer and more dangerous. Thinking he's been brought to FBI headquarters for drunk-dialing the IRS, Moonlight learns that he's got some unfinished business: his last case, which had him up against Russian mobsters in search of a zip drive loaded with government secrets, isn't exactly closed. The cop who was supposed to deliver the goods to the FBI went rogue, bringing along a crooked agent and Moonlight's ex, and now he's out to sell the hardware to the highest bidder. The FBI wants Moonlight's help in tracking down the trio – all the way to Florence, Italy – and wooing Lola into handing over the zip drive. He's just going to have to outwit, outrun, and outshoot the Russian thugs who have their own big plans for the zip drive, and for Moonlight.

My Thoughts: This continues from where Moonlight Rises began. And like the first book in the series, this one is good enough, a quick and fast-paced read, but ultimately an unsatisfying one. Again, we don’t get much character development – the characters are mostly caricatures, two-dimensional, and we don’t learn much about them, not even the narrator, Moonlight. There are two more stories in this series, currently – I believe the next one is a digital short and I’m not sure about the fourth – but I don’t have enough interest in the series to seek them out. I wouldn’t call reading them a waste of time – like an action movie, it’s something to occupy and entertain – but if I were recommending suspense/thriller books, I would recommend John Sanford’s Lucas Davenport series above this one.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Book Review: "Moonlight Rises" by Vincent Zandri

Moonlight Rises review
Author: Vincent Zandri
3 out of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Suspense Thriller
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of thrillers

Disclosure: I received this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis from the back of the book: Dick Moonlight was dead. or so he thought. Thanks to a trio of Obama-masked thugs in a dark downtown Albany alley, he feels his free and floating spirit moving toward the Pearly Gates before getting pulled back into his pummeled body. Then the real trouble starts. Moonlight’s brain may have worked better before it had a bullet in it, but he knows he’s still in danger. The clues point to his latest client, Peter Czech, a handicapped nuclear engineer who the thugs believe gave Moonlight a secret box – and they’re willing to get it any deadly way they can. Only Moonlight can’t remember any box – but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have it. He just better figure out where it is before he winds up dead for good this time.

My Thoughts: This is a fast-paced story, enjoyable enough in a potato chip way, but nothing ultimately terribly impressive. The main character, Dick Moonlight, is a former cop, occasional private eye, and owns a bar that was given to him in lieu of payment for a job. He also has a fragment of a bullet in his brain that causes him to have occasional short-term memory loss and difficulties with things like blacking out and losing his balance, as well as being in danger of a stroke. Ultimately we don’t learn much about him, though, or his much-more-interesting friend Georgie. I think if Zandri had taken the time to develop the characters a bit more, this would have been a much better book. As it was, it was average. While I read it pretty much straight through, for me it was like an action movie, a dime-a-dozen story with nothing much to differentiate itself from any other genre book.

So, if you like suspense thriller-type books, if you like action movies, you will probably enjoy this book, but if you’re looking for intricate plots and character development, you can keep moving along. Story is continued in Blue Moonlight,
which I will be reading next.

TeAmNeRd ReViEwS: Interview: Author C.M. Skiera (Crimson & Cream) + ...

Follow the link below to TeAmNeRd ReViEwS for another giveaway!  I may be busy editing, but I'm taking care of my peeps at Now is Gone ;-)

TeAmNeRd ReViEwS: Interview: Author C.M. Skiera (Crimson & Cream) + ...: Author C.M. Skiera drops by to chat with Annabell about what makes him a nerd, what his job is like as an environmental engineer, what spa...

FREEBIE ALERT: "The Fridgularity" by Mark A. Rayner

If you've been paying attention, you will have noticed my review of The Fridgularity a couple weeks back. That review is here, for your ease of reference - just click. Well, I just heard from the author, Mark A. Rayner, that The Fridgularity is currently free at Amazon (through Friday). So, you have something to be thankful for - a free e-book! Go and get a copy while you can! You will not regret it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Giveaway: Dale Ibitz two-pack!

I'm a bit late putting this week's giveaway up due to a shuffle-around in the schedule when I decided not to hold the giveaway I originally had scheduled for next week. Anyway, Dale Ibitz stepped up into the void at the last minute, 'cause she's just awesome that way, so here we go! I need you all to pay attention here, because folks have been signing up for the wrong giveaways and that's left me to make sure the right people are eligible for each! Here's what we're doing this week - Dale's giving away copies of the first two books in her Last Moon Rising series, Fire in the Blood and Strong Blood. Way back when I was first getting started with reading and reviewing for independent authors, I read Fire in the Blood, and you can find that review here. I subsequently edited Strong Blood for Dale, so while you won't find a review (because I'm not always comfortable reviewing books I edited), I will tell you I really loved the second book in this series; unlike a lot of second books in series, this one takes the promises made in the first book and builds on them - it's really fantastic!

So, what we're doing this week is a double giveaway again, one for the US/Canada folks and one for the outside-of-US/Canada folks. For folks inside the US and Canada, we're giving away a set of these two books in paperback format. For folks outside the US/Canada, we're giving away two sets of e-books. There are two Rafflecopter forms below, so select the appropriate one and sign up for that one only! Good luck!

For US/Canada residents:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

For residents OUTSIDE US/Canada ONLY:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Wilde's Army

Wilde's Army
Wilde's Army by Krystal Wade

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Fantasy
Reading Level: Older Young Adult
Recommended for: Fans of fantasy, especially with romance, those who want to finish the series.

Disclosure: I received an e-book ARC/e-galley from Curiosity Quills via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: “Hello, Katriona.” Those two words spark fear in Katriona Wilde and give way to an unlikely partnership with Perth, the man she’s been traded to marry for a favor. Saving her true love and protector Arland, her family, and their soldiers keeps her motivated, but the at-odds duo soon realizes trust is something that comes and goes with each breath of Encardia’s rotting, stagnant air. The moment when concern for her missing sister spirals out of control, all thoughts of trust are pushed aside and she finds herself trapped by the daemon tricks Perth warned her of. 

However, rescuing those she loves is only half the problem. 

Kate still must get to Willow Falls, unite her clashing people, and form an army prepared to fight in order to defeat Darkness. When so many she’s grown fond of die along the journey, her ability to play by the gods’ rules is tested. 

How will she make allies when the world appears stacked against her? And will she still be Katriona Wilde, the girl with fire?

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Wilde’s Fire, which was basically a really long set-up for this book, giving us the world- and character-building needed to come into the story and want to stay and find out what happens. However, this book did not excite me and bring me into it like the last one did – I think it was because there was just so much going on, constantly. Fight, barely manage to recuperate, fight some more, magic, deus ex machina, more magic and fighting, blah blah blah. I had a hard time keeping myself focused on reading it, and ended up spending long stretches of time doing other things to get away from it. Kate kept fussing about things over and over again to the point where it became absolutely ridiculous and I just wanted to shake her. The last 15 percent of the book or so took place in a hold, so there was again some character-building and interactions, but it wasn’t quite enough, for me, to make up for the overall book.

However, the ending sort of made up for the rest of it. I was fixing to give this two stars and a scathing lack of recommendation, but those who enjoyed the first book will probably want to go ahead and read this one. I’m hoping that, like many trilogies, the final book will be more satisfying, although I’m certainly not going to rush out and get it because I no longer have as much interest in it.

So, basically, I didn’t feel this book developed on the promise that the first one gave, but the ending made up for a lot of the problems, so if you enjoy fantasy, if you’re a fan of romance and/or fantasy, you might end up liking this better than I did. That’s all for my review, but if you want an idea of my thoughts on a couple things that are definitely spoilers, you can read the last paragraph.

SPOILER ALERT: This will give some ideas that I had that apparently no one in the book noticed. It will be under a spoiler break on sites that allow that formatting, but most do not, thus this long preface to make sure you know – if you continue on, you will get spoilers. The whole issue with Perth could have been a non-issue if anyone had stopped to think: does it specify that Perth must marry the eldest Wilde daughter? Couldn’t he marry Brit and achieve the same results, of a consolidation of power? Brit is also a Leader, after all, even if she is a year younger than Katriona. Katriona and Arland could then be together with no problems, and Brit is a better match for Perth anyway. If it was specified that it must be the eldest Wilde, well, they could just lie about it – everyone makes such a huge fuss over how Kate and Brit look so much alike, so it shouldn’t be hard to do. Another problem I had was during the walk from Watcher’s Hall – they had horses. After most people were killed, why didn’t they take turns on the horses, or at least let the children ride them? It would have sped things up a little and not exhausted them quite so much.

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Attwood Got Published: DC Small Press Releases Blow Up the Roses with lab...

A huge CONGRATULATIONS to my friend Randy Attwood - his brilliance has finally been vindicated!  Follow the link to see the whole story!

Attwood Got Published: DC Small Press Releases Blow Up the Roses with lab...: A small press in D.C. has published this novel, what they call a "dangerous suspense/thriller." Blow Up the Roses is indeed that. Publishe...

Review: Midnight: Century of the Vampires

Midnight: Century of the Vampires
Midnight: Century of the Vampires by Ami Blackwelder

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Paranormal Dystopia
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Can’t recommend it

Disclosure: I received an ARC copy of this novella in e-book form from the author in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: The world is no longer the way we remember. Few are even still alive to recall the days when midnight didn’t mean cowered away & hidden. Out of sight became our only way to survive since the...Century Vampires. If you want to live, trust no one.

Additional Information: “Midnight:Century of the Vampires” is part 1 of 3 of this series.

The series is continued in “Midnight: Rise of the Underground”.

My Thoughts: I had hoped to be able to read and review this for the author prior to its release at the end of October, but was unable to do so. My apologies for the delay in this review.

And my deepest apologies, but I could not finish this book. The part I read seemed to have been carefully proofread, as there were no obvious spelling errors or the like, but the way things were worded was just … painful. First off, a scene opens in a cave where apparently the main characters are trying to ambush some vampires – and they’re yelling back and forth to each other. They’ve known each other for two years, but while on the run from a vampire, Mark suddenly asks Aura how it was she found the place where they’ve been living together for two years – not very good priorities, if you ask me. And descriptions like:
Twin vampires dove like vultures over the tree as they landed on Mark and Aura... Aura didn’t have time to admire Mark’s robust frame, chiseled features and rounded arms. She had to keep focused on the blood sucker trying to rip off her head.... She had to keep the fangs from entering her chalk-white skin, from squirting its venom inside her veins, from draining all of her blood... The vamp didn’t give her an inch to move. His two legs teetered on either side of her, knees kicked into her ribs. His arms braced him above her as his fangs dripped of desire, desire for her blood, for her death.
It seems like every opportunity to remark on something completely unrelated to the scene at hand is taken. Also, vampires are said to do things like “throw their fangs” at necks... ?? Did anyone else see vampire dentures in their brains?

I’ve read a few other books by this author, and had mixed results, but nothing truly bad until this one. I have to wonder if maybe this book wasn’t rushed out too quickly. It felt to me like it could use some content editing, both to get rid of things like the description “arms limbs” and to smooth out the story flow.

View all my reviews

Review: The Whisperer in Darkness

The Whisperer in Darkness
The Whisperer in Darkness by H.P. Lovecraft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Please note: This novella is included in The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft, which can be downloaded for free from the CthulhuChick website. (Links where formatting is allowed)

Synopsis: An Arkham university professor is contacted by a farmer living in a remote part of Vermont, who claims to have evidence of aliens living in the hills and mining a mysterious metal. After visiting, the professor becomes alarmed at the mysterious change in the behavior of the farmer, including his assertion that the aliens can extract a human brain and keep it alive in jar for eternity

My Thoughts: One of the best things about reading Lovecraft is the way he structures the story, slowly building the details, slowly building a creepy atmosphere, moving forward and back to great effect, and then dropping a bomb on the reader with a sudden revelation at the end. Sure it's a structure that eventually was taken up by many mystery and suspense writers and used to the point where it has become a cliche, but in Lovecraft's time it was still new and fresh, and reading it with that in the back of one's head let's one enjoy it anew. This would be a great choice for someone wanting to sample a classic Lovecraft to start with, as it brings together a number of his ongoing themes - the Elder gods, those Outside, even to a certain degree the dreamworlds.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Random Read: "The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus" by Christopher Marlowe

A couple weeks ago I saw another blogger doing a "random read" and thought it sounded like fun, but the way she had selected hers confounded me. So, I came up with my own way to get a random read. I asked several people to provide me a keyword, which I accumulated, assigned a number, and then chose a number using I then did a search on Goodreads using that keyword and chose the first ebook I found that I had on my TBR list. Complicated, but it did come up with something really random!

So, the keywords I had to choose from were: eternal, snowflake, dice, hope, luck, and castigator (yeah, I know - I actually used a random-word generator to select this one, just to have another word on the list). The one I ended up with was "hope", supplied by Junying Kirk. The first ebook I ran across in my search that I owned and had not already read was The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, which I downloaded for my Nook in February of 2011 from ... somewhere. I didn't make a note of it. Before the end of November, I will try to get this book read and reviewed.

I hope you'll be looking forward to it as much as I am!